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Feedback on an upgrade

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December 30, 2011 7:21:49 AM

Hello, I was looking for a bit of help. I'm going to help my friend upgrade his aging system a bit, which is an Asus CM1630-03 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...).

The biggest thing is that he wants to play video games on his computer now, like Skyrim on high to mid graphics settings for example. Mostly due to budget we're pretty adamant on an upgrade instead of a complete replacement. This is the list of parts that I have lined up right now/ http://pcpartpicker.com/p/2Dbw

If you don't want to click the link, it goes as follows...
Phenom IIx4 955 BE
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus CPU Cooler
EVGA GTX 460
G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory
Silverstone 600W ATX12V


Here are some questions I have...
1) I'm back and forth on getting the new RAM. Do you think its worth the money to upgrade to 8GB? If so how can I check what speed and type of RAM that motherboard will take?
2) Will putting in a new processor force me to reinstall the OS? Or will that not be an issue at all?
3) I'm not as familiar with AMD's graphics card line up as Nvidia's, so is there a better performing card at that price point (~$170)?
4) I think the Power Supply might be a bit of an overkill, but I was erring on the side of caution. Should it be stepped down?
5) We still haven't decided on a new case for his system. Size is a factor because he wants to keep it in his desk's cubbyhole, so it cant be too much bigger than the original case size. (I don't have the exact measurements with me right this moment, but I'll get that ASAP)

Any feedback or advice would be appreciated!

More about : feedback upgrade

December 30, 2011 7:52:45 AM

you have 4gig of memory. should be enough. the processor comes with a cooler, see how that works before buying another. check with the mother board manufacturer to see if that processor is supported on that board and/or if a BIOS update is needed to put that processor on that board. the power supply, what is it-- give specs/model, etc. that will have an impact on what card you can use.

if you can give specific hardware in your case as the link only gives poor information of exact products.
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December 30, 2011 12:33:48 PM

Old system was:
ASUS Essentio CM1630-03 Desktop PC Athlon II X2 2.8GHz 4GB DDR3 640GB HDD Capacity ATI Radeon 3000 IGP Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Your questions:
Here are some questions I have...
1) I'm back and forth on getting the new RAM. Do you think its worth the money to upgrade to 8GB? If so how can I check what speed and type of RAM that motherboard will take? --- Download CPU-z (google it) use the SPD tab. Check and see how many free memory slots using the pulldown. Populate free slots (if any) with 2GB dimms (they are really cheap). If no free slots then stay at 4GB.
2) Will putting in a new processor force me to reinstall the OS? Or will that not be an issue at all? -- You may have to revalidate with Windows, this is automated, plainless, takes 2 seconds. You may not need to revalidate since you are keeping teh same MB. No big deal either way, no reinstall.
3) I'm not as familiar with AMD's graphics card line up as Nvidia's, so is there a better performing card at that price point (~$170)? --- maybe HD6850 or HD 6870 I like this reference: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/fastest-graphics-ca...
4) I think the Power Supply might be a bit of an overkill, but I was erring on the side of caution. Should it be stepped down? -- How much of an overclock is planned? No OC, then step down ok to 400 with quality psu. (maybe lower, but why both going lower)
5) We still haven't decided on a new case for his system. Size is a factor because he wants to keep it in his desk's cubbyhole, so it cant be too much bigger than the original case size. (I don't have the exact measurements with me right this moment, but I'll get that ASAP) -- why would you swap cases? If things fit before, they will still fit. You are not replacing the MB.

NOTE: if you get memory dimms that have extended heat sinks (I don't) then make sure you have clearance between your CPU cooler and the tops of the dimms.

NOTE2: I would do this build in two stages. First get the video and PSU. See if performance is where you want it. If so, you are done, start saying for new MB, CPU in 6months to a year that is much stronger than Phenom IIx4 955 BE. That may be where you get a case. IF the performance is not good enough with the current CPU then go with the Phenom IIx4 955 BE abd heatsink.
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December 30, 2011 1:19:57 PM

PSU suggestion: Antec Earthwatts 430w

Video Card suggestion: HD 6870 (better than the GTX 460)

RAM suggestion: 4GB is plenty, but it's SO CHEAP right now - load up your slots.

Definitely keep your case - but maybe add a case fan or two. You're putting in some high-powered (read: hot) parts.
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December 30, 2011 3:19:21 PM

"...Size is a factor because he wants to keep it in his desk's cubbyhole,..."

I missed this the first time. HEAT is not your friend. Make sure that the desk cubbyhole has good (huge) ventilation, the new build will be dumping 200-250 watts of heat into this space. If you end up exhausting hot air and then pulling the same hot air back into the system things will get loud as fans try to cope then eventually you'll go into thermal throttling and performance will be terrible for both cpu and video. fail.
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December 30, 2011 8:46:45 PM

Thanks for the quick response guys, I really appreciate it!

I think we may end up with a light overclock on it, maybe 3.4 or 3.6 depending on how things go. And no worries there, I know the risks and benefits of overclocking and I know how to be careful and not fry the thing. All that being said I felt getting a new CPU cooler would be wise, besides it's relatively cheap to do.

As for the placement of the tower, I realize the heating. I'm in the process of trying to talk him out of it still. I may end up having to drill ventilation holes into the desk. I'll probably run the PC under load for a while and see what happens and what can be done about it.

Also, seeing the price/performance difference on the 6870 vs a GTX 460, I'm definitely going to go with the 6870. That and with the thought of overclocking, I'm going to stick with that 600 watt PSU.

I think I just have one more question. I've never quite understood the difference in PC memory and it's impact on performance. For example 1333 vs 1600 and the timings. So far I have these 2 picked out.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Would the 1600 make a quantifiable difference or is the 1333 just as good for cheaper? Is there an even better option?

And once again thank you guys a lot for help!
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December 30, 2011 8:54:13 PM

With a Phenom II, the faster RAM makes sense. Maybe not worth $10 performance-wise, but still, $55 for 8GB of fast RAM is an amazing price.
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December 31, 2011 3:11:49 AM

Best answer selected by Grand_Admiral_K.
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